Hi everyone! Welcome back.
Today we’re talking about 3 acupuncture marketing ideas if your patient numbers are low in the summertime.
But first, thank you to everyone for your enthusiasm about my new online course, Acupuncture Marketing: Easy Strategies for More Patients, that launched early last month!
There are currently 42 students enrolled. (Holy moly!) I’m SO excited that 42 acupuncturists are ready to change the way they look at marketing and make marketing easier, more effective, and streamlined.
I’ve had especially great feedback about the social media tips and tricks throughout the course. We all know social media can feel endless. I even admit in the course how much I dislike social media sometimes! Seriously, if social media disappeared forever, I’d be okay with that… But because of that friction between me and social media, I have lots of tips on how to make it A) more effective, so you actually get patients from it, and B) much more manageable, so you can be consistent with it.
Plus there was one scholarship awarded! Congratulations to Shani Cooper of Root + Soul Acupuncture in San Diego, California. Here’s what Shani has to say about the course so far:
I love your idea of accountability partner. I have my first deadline coming up tomorrow and I’m feeling good about it thanks to all the tools I learned from your course. I just sent out my first email blast via Mail Chimp with a beautiful, Canva-created graphic, I’m loving my logo so much more, my website looks cohesive and even my FB page and posts are starting to look way more inviting. I’m so grateful to you for putting all of this together. It truly is the missing link!
There were 19 scholarship applicants from five different countries (!), and it was crazy difficult to choose a winner. Thank you to everyone who submitted a video application!
I’d love it if you took a look at the course here.
(If you’re not sure whether the big course is right for you, no worries. You can enroll in my FREE 14-day email training to get a feel for my teaching style and my approach to marketing. Every day for 14 days you’ll get an educational email about marketing. Plus I include free downloads and worksheets in the email training, because I love worksheets and they’re an important component of how I teach marketing.)
Okay, let’s get to it! What are my three favorite acupuncture marketing tips to boost your business during the slow summer season?
- Send an email newsletter with a special offer and a deadline.
- Shout out about open appointment slots on social media to get them filled ASAP.
- Dedicate a week to a specific condition within your specialty and make it a big deal. For example, “Defeat Knee Pain Week!”
The details: (Ya’ll know I love details! Let’s do this!)
1. Send an email newsletter.
Your email list is one of your business’s greatest assets. I can’t stress this enough.
Why? Four big reasons.
One, emails are currency. Yes, that’s right. Getting someone’s email is so powerful because it’s an open channel for you to connect with an engaged audience any time you like. This allows you to market to them on a regular basis. Remember, the people who signed up for your email list WANT to be on there; they want to learn from you, they want updates about your practice, etc. In fact, they expect to hear from you on topics to help them live a healthier lifestyle. That’s why they signed up!
Two, email marketing allows you to market in a genuine, non-sleazy, non-pushy way. I mean, of course it’s possible to engage in sleazy, pushy email marketing, but if you’re here on my website, I’m pretty sure you’re not interested in that. Instead, the beauty of email is that it allows you to build trust in your audience in a low-key way. Every email you send helps your audience get to know you better. This builds that know-trust-like factor that allows people to feel safe spending their financial resources on what you have to offer.
Three, email marketing is very low cost and has phenomenal ROI! In any marketing, it takes 5-7 touch points (aka, reminders about your and your practice) on average before a patient is willing to buy something or sign up for an appointment. Email is a very inexpensive way to get in these touch points. You can sign up for an email platform (typically) from around $15/month and then send as many emails as you like. I like ConvertKit because it’s easy to use.
Four, you own your email subscriber list, unlike your social media followings. What do I mean by that? Social media heavy hitters like Facebook and Instagram are ultimately in charge of your accounts; at the drop of a hat, they can decide to change the algorithm so your posts have less reach, or your account could be erased. They decide these things. But you own your list of email subscribers, and you control whether you reach your audience (mainly, whether you choose to email them or not). So it’s a much better investment of your time and effort to focus on building your email list than your social media following, because you own your email list.
Okay, Michelle, I get it! You convinced me! Now, what should I write in my email newsletter?
I’m going to recommend a three-pronged approach for your next newsletter:
- Include links to two educational articles (provide value in the form of education)
- Make an special offer with a call to action and a deadline (get their attention and give them a reason to call for an appointment, plus generate urgency)
- Mention any updates to your practice (build that know-like-trust factor and let people get to know you a bit)
The big thing with email newsletters (and email marketing of all kinds) is that you want to focus on providing value to your readers. That’s the reason people open your newsletters; they trust that you’re going to provide something useful to them. Value comes in the form of education. What can you provide that will help educate your patients on living a healthier lifestyle?
If you patient numbers have been down lately because people are out enjoying the beautiful summer weather, put together a newsletter focusing on how acupuncture can help people get more out of their summer. Try your best to relate this to your specialty, if possible.
You don’t have to write articles from scratch. (Although you can, if you have a blog!) If you find articles that are a good fit, you can briefly outline the articles in a sentence or two and link to them so your readers can jump to the article.
For example, you could link to articles about stretching for weekend warriors, to help people who’ve been spending way more time outside playing sports or being active in the summer weather. Think runners, bikers, golfers, etc. You could include links to healthy recipes that jive with TCM food recommendations for summer – recipes with cooling, hydrating foods, for example. The possibilities are endless. Just try to relate it all back to acupuncture and your specialty.
Next, give your audience a reason to call you. Make a special offer (a discount or a bonus) and don’t forget to include a call to action and a deadline!
You can offer a discount, if you’re comfortable with that, or you can offer something extra on top of the usual treatment if you prefer not to give discounts. For example, a “10-minute cupping massage to reduce shoulder tension.”
Side note here: If you offer the cupping massage as a bonus, please please please be sure to include something like that phrase above, “to reduce shoulder tension” or “to help eliminate knots from poor posture sitting at your desk all day,” etc.
Basically, you need to tell people WHY cupping will benefit them. Because most people A) don’t really know what cupping is and B) have no idea specifically what it’s for. So speak from their point of view: what about cupping will benefit them? It will help reduce knots and tension. Your conversion rate will be so much better if you make the benefit to them clear!
Don’t forget to include your call to action in multiple places in your newsletter. What’s a call to action? It’s where you tell your audience exactly what you want them to do and how to do it. For example, “Call 123-456-7890 today to save your appointment spot and get your extra 10-minute cupping massage!”
And you must include a deadline or expiration date for your offer. This is super important! The more marketing I do and the more experienced I get, the more I’m seeing the power of a deadline.
Why? It creates urgency and a sense of impending loss (for example, the loss of an opportunity to grab a deal!) and people just can’t resist that. Deadlines are usually the tipping point that forces them to take action RIGHT NOW instead of saying to themselves, “Oh, I’ll sign up for that later,” or “I’ll call her later.” Because you know people forget, they get distracted, they change their minds, etc. But an expiration date forces them to make the decision right away. And that’s what you want: to get more patients on your schedule ASAP.
Okay, the last part of your email newsletter is to let people get to know you a bit: Share updates about things happening in your practice. This could be new partnerships you’ve made in your community, renting space to new wellness practitioners, continuing education that you’ve done recently, fundraisers you’ve participated in over the summer, etc. Just give people a peek into your office so they can get to know you. You can even include a behind-the-scenes photo… whatever it is, just give people a glimpse of the authentic (professional) you.
2. Shout out about open appointment slots on social media
This one requires that you’re already relatively consistent with posting on social media to begin with. And if you’re not consistent, this is a great time to buckle down and get better about it! I use Hootsuite to schedule my social media posts in advance and that helps enormously with consistency in my social media presence.
The idea is simple. Let’s say you have a cancellation for your Tuesday afternoon slot at 4:00 pm. The goal is to use social media to fill that time slot in your schedule.
What do you do?
Post on your Facebook or Instagram page that you have an appointment open at that time, and link to your online schedule. Emphasize that the slot is going to go fast! This is a post that you want to put out there with lots of enthusiasm. Even if you don’t know whether people will try to scoop it up right away, it doesn’t matter. Create a sense of urgency and make it like a game – whoever grabs the appointment first is the winner!
I recommend posting a picture of an empty treatment room at your clinic.
You could say something to the effect of, “I had an appointment slot open up at 3:00 this afternoon! First lucky person to grab the slot on my online schedule gets to take a nap in this cozy treatment room at 3pm! Ready, set, go!”
Remember, posts with pictures always get more engagement than those without; the Facebook algorithm really favors photos and video.
If you don’t have an online schedule, you could say that the first person to send you a direct message or to post a comment “claiming” the spot will get the appointment. If you use this method you’ve got to be on top of your social media, watching to see who comments or messages you, so you can get back to them right away and let them know you’ve put them on your schedule. Make sure they know that your normal cancellation/no-show policy still applies.
This method is also great for creating a lot of “buzz” on your social media. People get excited about this kind of thing, especially if your enthusiasm for getting the slot filled shines through in the language you use in your post.
And once you’ve done this a few times, your followers will be on the lookout for it. They’ll be more likely to engage and get excited about it.
One last thought: you can also do this through your email marketing if you prefer. I know a massage therapist who does essentially the exact same thing (“One appointment left for this Thursday, grab it while you can!”) by sending an email blast to her subscribers. So it’s up to you – an email blast is also another option to get those empty spaces filled.
3. Create a week focused on “defeating” a common condition within your specialty (Defeat PMS Day! or Defeat IBS Day!) and focus your marketing on that. Make it a “big deal.”
You guys, I love this one! But I’m gonna admit right away, I didn’t think of it on my own. I snagged it from the awesome marketing website BrandonGaille.com. (Thanks Brandon!) It’s so good I just had to share it with you.
(You can read Brandon’s entire article here: 12 Great Acupuncture Marketing Ideas. Some of these are a little off the wall, but you know what? Honestly, off the wall is often successful because it’s attention grabbing! #6 and 7 in his list are my favorite.)
I think it’s such a unique and super-effective idea. Chose a condition within your specialty, pick a week or a day to be “Defeat ______ Day” or “Defeat _____ Week” and start promoting the heck out of it!
Let’s say you picked “Defeat Knee Pain Week.” The week prior to whatever dates you select, you’d want to start promoting it on your social media and send an email or two letting your followers and subscribers know that it’s coming up soon. This is pre-launch advertising, so to speak.
You can promote articles about natural wellness for the condition (stretching for knee pain, anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis that mention knee pain, etc.) and let people know that “Defeat Knee Pain Week” is coming up soon. You can also write blog posts about how people can manage knee pain as well as to let people know that the special week is coming up.
During “Defeat Knee Pain Week” you could give a presentation in your office or at the local library about managing knee pain with acupuncture and other natural methods. Or you could make an entire wellness event out of it, and host other speakers about the topic as well; chiropractors, massage therapists, whomever you like, as long as they talk about knee pain.
And that entire week, narrow in all your marketing on this one specific condition and how you can help them. Provide value in the form of articles, research, and education, in whatever way you can. And every time you bring it up, remind them how effective acupuncture is at treating knee pain!
Plus include calls to action every time you mention it: “Ready to get relief for your knee pain? Acupuncture can help! Click here to schedule your online appointment now!”
You could offer a promotion of some kind if you want, but if you make it a “big deal” in your office, you may not need to. Just the repetition and hype alone will be sufficient to draw attention and awareness to how much acupuncture can help relieve whatever condition you choose to promote.
If you’re reluctant to choose just one condition to emphasize for a promotion like this, remember: If you’re too broad in your advertising, people will not get the message.
A common adage in marketing that promotes the importance of specializing and identifying your unique target market is:
If you’re speaking to everyone, then you’re not really speaking to anyone.
In other words, people need to feel like you’re calling them out directly. Like you’re speaking right to them. Then they are MUCH more likely to take action.
If you just say, “Acupuncture for Pain Management,” people don’t really know what the means.
What kind of pain? Only chronic pain? What about pain from car accidents? Do headaches fall in that category? They’re wondering, “Can this actually help me?” If they’re not sure, they’re going to be much less likely to take the plunge and make an appointment.
On the flip side of this, imagine if you have knee pain and you’re wondering what the heck to do about it. You know you don’t want to take aspirin, but you feel a little lost, like you’re out of options.
Then you see an advertisement or get an email that says, clear as day, that acupuncture can help knee pain. It’s like it’s speaking directly to you! You’re MUCH more likely to click on the link and do some research than if the email just said, “Acupuncture for pain.”
So select one condition within your specialty and really go for it!
Promote the heck out of it. Make it a week-long reason to promote and shout out about your business and really grab people’s attention. This kind of thing really works!
I can’t wait for you to give these awesome marketing tips a try! Let me know how they work for you. I’m confident that each one will give your patient numbers a boost, even during the slow summer season.
Have you tried any of these methods? How did they work for you? Tell us below in the comments!
Until next week!
Want more ideas to boost your patient numbers this week? Before you go, sign up for my free eBook, 10 Ways to Book More Patients with a Marketing Budget of Zero Dollars!
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